In an effort to promote the development of literature and a reading culture in the country, Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) has launched a national literary award, which will run for one year.
Speaking during the official launch of the award in Blantyre on Friday, Mawu president Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona said the new competition has replaced the Peer Gynt Literary Award.
“We have been running Peer Gynt Literary Award for the past nine years. But now we have launched the new National Literary Award which seeks to transform the country’s literary world,” said Mvona.
Peer Gynt prize is named after the main character in Peer Gynt (1867), a five-act play in verse by Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen.
However, Mvona said this time around the National Literary Award strives to promote novels.
“We have started calling for entries for the literary competition. But we are only interested in novel manuscripts not less than 40 000 words. The idea is to promote the culture of writing novels because Malawi has few novelists, making this literary area lagging behind. I should emphasise that this is not an essay competition; hence, we don’t want people to submit essays,” said Mvona.
The National Literary Award has since dangled a K1 million as the mega prize for competition. The second best and placed will go away with K500 000 and K200 000, respectively.
Commenting on the new writing competition, one of the seasoned writers, Nancy Phiri, urged female writers to take up the challenge.
“This is the opportunity for female writers in the country to demonstrate their worth. They should take up this challenge,” said Phiri.
Those wishing to submit manuscripts should do so by hand or through Mawu’s post office address.
“We will not allow entries via Internet. Again, the manuscripts should not bear names of the contestants. They are asked to provide their details on a separate sheet,” said Mvona.
He added that Mawu will publicise the competition through various channels such as notice boards of various education institutions across the country to encourage more writers to submit.